Nominated for the Best New Musical, Best Lighting (Howard Harrison), and Best Musical Actor (John Barrowman and Philip Quast) for the 1998 Oliver Awards. Philip Quast won the Oliver Best Musical Actor Award for the second time!
Synopsis taken from CD inlay with some added additions:
Forty Eight hours before the presidential election, front runner Reed Chandler between the leather clad thighs of his mistress. The nation grieves. Among them, Reed's ambitious widow Violet and his Svengali-like brother Grahame, crippled by childhood polio, on crutches and a stutterer just for good measure. The Chandler compound plays to a posh and spectacular post-funeral reception, while upstairs Reed's son Calvin sits in his room, playing a virtuosic air guitar, smoking a joint, and expressing his philosophy of life (One, Two, Three).
After the guests have gone on their way, Violet tries to convince Grahame to shepherd Cal through the ranks of political office. Grahame protests, even going so far as to question the boy's true paternity and stirring the memory of a man from Violet's past, Bobby 'Cracker' Barrel. Not easily dissuaded, Violet in turn tuants Grahame with unnatural attraction to his own nephew, and eventually enlists his aid. The plot is hatched (Embrace Tomorrow).
Cal, a spectacularly un-ambitious slacker with with poor public profile, is promptly emlisted in the army. Guarding a minefield in the desert one night, and tripping on acid, Cal is visited by Reed who extols the joys of politics to his son. (Control).
Once back home, Cal is married off to a perky debutante and polished to a seemingly high gleam, all the while snorting coke to keep his energy level up (America's Son). Easily elected to the City Council, Cal delivers a scrupulously vapid speech to great acclaim (I See the Future).
Esacaping to a seedy strip club afterwards, Cal meets up with the exotic Tina McCoy, the club singer (Lonely is a Two Way Street). Avoiding the mob types who own the club, Tina quickly latches on to Cal.
Cal shows up minutes before a press conference the next morning, unshaven, hung-over, and reeking of a woman who is clearly not his wife. Grahame fumes, Cal snorts. Business as usual. But then the word "fuck" inadvertently finds its way into Cal's pre-approved vocabulary of buzz words, the press is shocked. Left to simk or swim, Cal somehow turns this embarrassment to his advantage, wounding Grahame's pride in the process (Simple Words). Violet, brandied lips to her son's ear, advises Cal to keep his Uncle Grahame happy at all costs.
As the race for Governor heats up, Cal seeks escape in the arms of Tina, who for her part finds herself falling in love with Cal. She comforts him, eventually introducing to the seductive joys of heroin (Alleluia).
But when blackmail photos are taken of Cal and Tina "flagrante delicto" (Flash, Pop, Sizzle), it is up to Grahame to take care of the problem. Seeing that his uncle wants to wash his hands of the campaign, Cal brazenly manipulates Grahame, walking an oh so fine line between familial affection and provocative seduction. Grahame ashamedly comes back to Cal's side (Sense out of Insanity).
Grahame renews the family's long-buried relationship with mob boss, Anthony Gliardi, who gladly welcomes the soon-to-be Governor and his family back into the fold (Dangerous Games).
In a head spinning celebration of bad taste, Grahame fills us in on some family background (Two Guys At Harvard ). But at his yearly physical, reality catches up with him. Weakened by age and stress, he is consigned to a wheelchair (First Came Mercy).
Shortly after his wife gives birth to a well-timed son, Cal is elected Governor. But his continued drug use and corruption are making him harder to control. Even Tina feels helpless as she watches Cal slip away from her (Bend The Spoon).
Facing the possibility of losing the U.S. Senate nomination, Violet takes matters by the balls. With the help of Peter Hale (Chief of Security, and God knows what else), she banishes Cal to his room to dry out (Cleaning House).
Grahame, vindictive and a tad jealous, sets out after Tina. Barred from the apartment in which Cal has placed her, Tina comes running to the Compound for help. Producing some personal and highly persuasive proof, Grahame manages to convince Tina that Cal has given her up to lead a straight life. Tina leaves in tears, believing that Cal wants nothing more to do with her.
Cal, in the meantime, has escaped from his room, and is leading the security on a merry chase as he searches the grounds for a hidden stash. Once captured, Grahame confiscates the drugs. Desperate for his fix, and eager to keep Grahame silent, Cal resorts to a proven tactic (Upper Hand).
Violet has ben drinking. A lot. And up in her room, she celebrates the joys of the battle (Spin). When Grahame comes to her with his upteenth threat to resign, she just laughs at him. Incensed, Grahame once again conjures up the memory of Bobby, who bursts through into Violet's reality to tell us the tale (The Ballad Of Bobby "Cracker" Barrel). "Make one mistake, and they never let you forget it!" Violet complains. Eye on the Senate, and a Jack Daniels in hand, she refuses to budge.
Cal, alone in his room, reflects on his mistakes (Child's Play). Sober at last, he gives another press conference. In a bizarre turn of events, Cal comes clean to the press about his family's secrets. Controlled now by no one but himself, he even implicates and exposes Anthony Gliardi. Cal becomes a media darling once again, and as the law closes in on the mob, the mob in-turn closes in on Cal (Lion Hunts the Tiger).
But Tina, having nowhere to go and thinking she has been abandoned by Cal, has returned to the mob where she started. Under orders from Gliardi, she lures Cal away from his family on his Birthday. Cal still in love with Tina, happily agrees to the rendezvous. Tina changes into a cheap Halloween Marilyn Monroe costume for Cal's benefit and goes to meet him (Mistress of Deception).
Cal is overjoyed to see her again, but happy ending is not on the cards. A pack of hitmen interrupt their reunion. A betrayed Cal and an equally betrayed Tina are gunned down.
Once again, the nation mourns. The United States is once again cheated of a natural born leader. Yet at his funeral, Cal's son makes a devastating appearance. Even Cal, in attendance himself is impressed. A beautiful three-year-old boy stands, solemn, at his father's grave, an exquisite tear trailing down his tender cheek. And damn, if the future doesn't look half bad (Finale).
The Fix reviewed by Matt Wof Variety May 25, 1997
The story of a scheming political family who might as well be named Kennedy (leading man John Barrowman even boasts Kennedy-esque good looks), ''The Fix'' begins as a pop opera ''Manchurian Candidate'' of deliberately cartoonish characterizations. Ascending quickly up the political ladder, a philandering senator named Reed Chandler (David Firth) dies suddenly after one dalliance too many. His ambitious wife, Violet (Kathryn Evans from ''Mack and Mabel,'' now sporting a Jackie O coiffure), and lame, polio-stricken brother Grahame (Philip Quast) instead pin their presidential hopes on Barrowman's layabout son Cal. Before you can say spin doctor --- indeed, Violet eventually gets a solo number titled ''Spin'' --- Cal is sent to army boot camp, married off to an available blonde (explains Grahame: ''blondes test better with the public''), and coached on attire, speech, and issues, of which only three matter: economy, crime, taxes. Grahame, in the meantime, expands his definition of ''family'': The Chandlers, we learn, are in thrall to the Mob.
In the second act, librettist Dempsey ups the stakes, and the show begins to stumble. Despite a brisk act opener for brothers Reed and Grahame, the tone turns solemn and bombastic as the creators succumb to a case of ''Les Miz''-itis.
None too mentally swift to begin with, Cal has fallen in with an ex-stripper (Krysten Cummings) who keeps him high on heroin, with the result that he is soon neglecting his political tutelage in favor of narcotics. With Grahame by now established as the resident Richard III (the crutches recall Antony Sher's celebrated portrayal of the role), the scene is set for a (quasi-)repetition of events, with the anointing of yet another Chandler politico as the lights dim.
The intention, presumably, is a blackly comic expose of a fundamentally American malaise (Marilyn Monroe is explicitly evoked at the 11th hour to broaden the frame of reference), though ''The Fix'' is better when it brushes satirically against such targets rather than trying to make a portentous statement. And admirable though the score is, it could profitably be pruned: One is aware late on of a series of putative showstoppers (among them a country-and-western ditty raising questions about Cal's paternity) struggling to hit their marks; the combined level of volume and harangue proves wearing.
From the initial chorus in suits and sunglasses, resembling the male lineup in ''Smokey Joe's Cafe,'' Mendes directs with a smart hand that can't forestall the ponderousness of the tale. With choreographer Charles Augins injecting a blast or two of clap-happy hot gospel to keep the company on the move, Rob Howell's mini-turntable set and the excellent Howard Harrison's fierce yet shadowy lighting create a sleek, soulless world amid which the Chandlers maneuver like the clawing voluptuaries of ambition that they are. Though Barrowman (the best Joe ''Sunset Boulevard'' ever had) is as appealing as his part allows, The plum assignments go to Evans and Quast as two ruthless operators for whom bitchery turns deadly. It's typical of the arc of ''The Fix'' that Cal's hymn to the future turns out to be grimly ironic, though on the evidence of the music expressing that vision, Rowe and Dempsey's prospects look considerably brighter.
More Reviews of The Fix
Images from The Fix
Grahame Chandler (Philip) during 'First Came Mercy'
Grahame Chandler and his doctor from 'First Came Mercy'
Philip, Kathryn Evans and John Barrowman
All images from 'The Fix' are & copy Cameron Mackintosh and used here with permission.
Sound clips from The Fix
© Kate McCullugh & Angela Pollard 2002. No portion of this page may be copied without permission of the author.